Clinics in Bedford
Open Mon-Fri 9-5pm

Connective Tissue

Connective Tissue: An Introduction

Description and Embryology

Clinical studies and anatomical investigation reports have confirmed that humans and other biological systems are structurally made in a complex interacting network of cells, various tissue types, and organ systems. In h mans, the tissues are classified into four primary groups: muscle, nervous, connective, and epithelial. Conn ctive tissues are considered the most abundant and diverse tissue type in humans. They support and make embryonic connective tissue to other tissues and organ systems –from the sheath blood plasmaof the connective tissue surrounding a bone to the blood and the tendons forming a contact point between bones and muscles. Prim rily, they serve the functions of protection, support, and structural organization in humans.

All connective tissues are derived from the mesenchyme –a tissue that developed at the early stages of life from the middle layer of the embryo, the mesoderm. In myself, the mesenchyme consists of a few collagen fibres and is largely of viscous ground substance. Cells in the mesenchyme are undifferentiated, spindle-shaped, and have large nuclei and fine chromatin. The pecialized cells of the mesenchyme migrspecializede embryo while penetrating and surrounding the developing and internal organs. This explains why t most connective tissueses formed by the mesenchymal cells are found in complex matrixes interspersed in the human body. In a dition to forming a vast network of connective tissues, the mesenchyme also plays a vital role in the formation of muscles and the vascular endothelium.

Composition of the Connective Tissues

Unlike epithelial tissues and other tissues composed of densely packed cells, connective tissues, on the other hand, are widely dispersed within the extracellular matrix (ECM). Rega dless of their position and specialized function in the body specialspecializedconnective tissues, thspecializedcally composed of the same three components –Cells, Ground substance, and protein fibers. Comb ned structurally, the protein fibre and ground substance make up the extracellular matrix –structural support for surrounding cells of the body. This comprehensive distribution network of tissues is essential to the biological functions of the ECM. The omposition of the ECM varies in the body, allowing for different types of tissues.


Connective tissues are made of cell types existing in both the active and the inactive forms. Cells that exist in active forms divide actively while secreting the biological component of the ground substance. In c nnective tissues, the most abundant cell type is the Fibroblast. The isological investigation into the functions of fibroblasts has revealed their importance in forming the ECM. Protins and complex carbohydrates (Polysaccharides) secreted by fibroblasts produce the viscous ground substances that the white blood cells further embed with the fibrous tissue and proteins to form the ECM. Othe cell populations include adipocytes, chondroblasts, osteoblasts, mesenchymal cells, mast cells, and macrophage cells. Pool therapy is a treatment that helps to increase the number of these cells in damaged or weakened areas of the body.


Adipocytes store lipids, filling the cytoplasmic space. The rown adipocyte cells store lipids as droplets and have high metabolic activity. Clin cal studies have suggested that the white adipocytes, in contrast, have low metabolic activity and store lipids in large drops. Chon oblasts and osteoblasts are specialized cells primarily located in bone marrow and specialized. Thes cells are responsible for bone formation and resorption. The esenchymal cells of the connective are concerned with tissue healing and repair. As m ltipotent adult stem cells, these cells can readily differentiate into any type of connective tissue. Macr phage cell components mediate the body’s immune system and defend the cells present the tissue systems against invading pathogens.

Ground Substance

Ground substance comprises cell adhesion proteins such as fibronectin and laminin, proteoglycans, and glycosaminoglycan, particularly hyaluronic acid. Stru turally, the ground substance has been described as proteoglycan with a protein core and polysaccharide branches. It i a viscous, amorphous, and gelatinous material that primarily acts as glue compacting for every component of migrating cells in the ECM into a single biological mass. In a dition to its compacting functions, the ground substance also allows material transfer within the ECM. Mate ial transfer in the ECM consists of nutrient and fluid transfer aided by the high water composition of the ground substance.


Three basic types of fibers are identified in the connective tissues –elastic fibers, collagen fibers, and reticular fibers. The proportion of these fibres in tissues is a function of tissue classification. Stru turally, the collagen fibers are long, straight, flexible fibers made from interlinked fibrous protein subunits. This type of fibre is widely known for its excellent tensile strength and characteristic resists stretching. Ela’s is fibres are made of the protein ‘elastin’. As t e name suggests, this type of protein is stretchable and can return to its original shape after compression or stretching. They are found chiefly in connective tissue disorders, the tissues of the blood vessels, spine ligaments, and skin. Reti ular or reticular fibres, are narrow fibres arranged in a branching network and formed from the identical protein subunits as collagen fibres. Retinal fibers are widely distributed in the reticular tissues of the liver, spleen, and many other soft tissues.


There are two broad classes of connective tissues. Thes include proper and specialized connective tissues—pro r connective specializedlude dense and loose dense regular connective tissue.

Loose Connective Tissues

This type of connective tissue fibers is proper contains multiple cells, a loosely arranged network of fibres, and a dense fluid matrix. The loose arrangement of fibres in this type of connective tissue accounts for its characteristic large intra-tissue spaces. Loose connective tissues also contain specialized cells called plasma cells, thick collagenspecializedd fine elastic fibres. Loos connective tissues are readily found in lymph glands, lamina propia of the alimentary, mucous membrane of the urinary and reproductive tracts, and the dermis of the skin.

Dense Connective Tissues

As the name suggests, this category of the dense connective tissue, proper is are densely formed by a reinforced network of fiber bundles and viscous ground substance. They are elastic, protective and provides the organ system a high tensile strength. The haracteristic resilience and tensile strength of these tissues make them suitable in parts of the body where impact resistance is needed. Dens connective tissues are found in the dermis of the skin fat tissue, joint capsule, and the outer envelope of muscles,

Specialized Connective Tissues

This category of specialised tissues, such as adipose tissue or dense irregular connective tissue, provides structural support in many parts of the body, including the soft tissues. The one and cartilages are perfect examples of this specialised. They are densely packed and specialized in a matrix. In b nes, this matrix is strong and rigid, containing deposits of calcium salts. The lymph –described as fluid connective tissue –consists of cells and fluid mediums transporting dissolved proteins, nutrients, and salts to organs requiring them.

The study of connective tissues –including their function, physiology, and pathology –are an important aspect of human medicine. Recent clinical studies investigating connective tissue disorder and its role in disease conditions –such as the adipose cells in arteriosclerosis and specialized bone disease –have further specialized interest in understanding these tissues.

Click for info on prolotherapy


Read more: